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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Wean Yourself Off the Even Money Habit at Blackjack

10 April 2005

What do you do when you have blackjack and the dealer has an Ace up? If you're like 95% of the blackjack players I've seen, you'll take even money. By settling for even money, the player is guaranteed a profit equal to the amount of his bet regardless of whether the dealer turns out to have blackjack or not.

Most people don't recognize that there's nothing special about the even money offer -- it merely amounts to taking insurance on your blackjack. Here's how that works.

Say you bet $20 on your hand and are dealt a blackjack when the dealer happens to have an Ace up. If you want insurance, you'd normally put $10 (half your bet) in the insurance ring and the dealer would then check her hole card. If she has blackjack too, your hand and hers will tie. But you'll have won your $10 insurance bet at 2-to-1 payoff odds and be paid $20 there.

Now, if the dealer doesn't have blackjack, you lose your $10 insurance bet, but your blackjack beats the dealer and gets paid 3-to-2 odds or $30 -- again, a $20 net profit. Since insuring a blackjack will net a one-bet profit no matter what happens, the house just cuts through the red tape and offers an even-money payoff right up front.

Being guaranteed a winner in the face of a possible push is such an attractive offer that very few players will turn it down. The problem is, even money is a bad bet that will end up costing you extra chips over time.

Savvy players realize if they just sit tight with their blackjacks against an Ace up, the times they get paid 3-to-2 combined with the times they push will make more profit than even money. But the average sucker just can't bring himself to turn down a sure thing and possibly end up getting nothing for such a beautiful hand.

These are the players today's lesson is designed to help. First of all, understand that you don't really have to get sucked into even money to be assured of making a profit with your blackjack against a dealer's Ace. That's because whenever the dealer has an Ace up, you can always insure for less -- even if you have blackjack! And the less insurance you take over time, the better off your bankroll will be.

So the next time you've got a $20 blackjack against a dealer's Ace showing, toss a measly $5 chip out onto the insurance ring. From that instant, the worst you can do is win ten bucks. That's what'll happen if the dealer has blackjack (the hands push and you get paid $10 on your $5 insurance bet). If she doesn't have blackjack, your $5 insurance bet loses and you get paid $30 for your blackjack. So doing things that way, you net either $10 or $25. and it'll usually be the $25. Technically, it's still the wrong play, but you're only giving the house half the percentage you would be if you took even money and you know for certain you'll get paid something.

Once you grow comfortable with the concept, you can begin insuring your blackjacks for less and less. Next time, toss maybe just $3 out there for your $20 blackjack. Now you'll win either $6 or $27. What you're doing is gradually weaning yourself off a bad habit.

Of course, you can do this with any size bet for any amount less than half your wager. With a $100 blackjack against an Ace up, for example, you could take, say, $10 worth of insurance and win either $20 or $140 depending upon whether the dealer has blackjack. If you took $20 worth of insurance, you'd net either $40 or $130. The key is that 9 times out of 13, you'll win the larger amount, which is the reason why you really shouldn't take any insurance at all -- even money included. But that's for another day in your future, when you've become a more complete and disciplined player.

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

> More Books By Fred Renzey